Riding the wave of controlled chaos: Intensive Care nursing


A young nurse fresh out of nursing school was ready – as ready as anyone could be – to dive into the high-stress environment of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU). And for 20+ years at Ohio State, Suzy Linville, RN, BSN, CCRN, has thrived in that chaotic environment, not only providing top-notch care to SICU patients, but also mentoring the next generation of nurses. 

She provides some perspective on what she teaches new nurses that they didn’t learn in school about patient care. Plus, she shares what patients may not know about their care team – but should!  

Who do you care for in the SICU?

As the “intensive care” name suggests, patients in the SICU are some of the most serious cases at Ohio State. Linville says no day is like another and best describes it as “controlled chaos.” 

Patients who are cared for in her department range from someone who just needs a watchful eye after a complicated surgery to someone who is fighting for their life to someone battling a serious injury.

Linville says her passion is tied to helping people in these high-stress moments.
“I truly get satisfaction from helping someone navigate through a difficult time in their lives either mentally or physically.”Nurses are highly integrated into all areas of a patient’s care team during their time at the hospital.

“We participate in rounds with the physicians, dietary, pharmacy and respiratory teams. We support the families through the emotional rollercoaster of having a loved one in the ICU. We do this all while providing top-notch, evidenced-based nursing care.”

What skills do you teach new nurses? 

In addition to exemplifying excellent patient care, Linville mentors new nurses on the tools they need to have a long and successful career in this high-stress world. 

The technical skills are crucial, but she also emphasizes caring for patients and families facing a crisis in their lives. 

“Empathy and compassion are essential in an ICU. I think if you treat the patients and their families how you would like your family to be treated, you win their trust.”

What is something patients may not know? 

Linville explains patients may not fully understand how much their entire care team is rooting for them to get better.  

“We aren’t here solely to provide care. We all got into nursing because we are passionate about helping people return to their everyday lives. We care about people.” 

What is special about working at Ohio State?

“I love working in a teaching hospital!”

Linville says everyone pushes to keep doing better for patients, and a learning atmosphere is supportive of such a charge. 

“The eagerness of new learners has kept it fresh for me and it is still exciting to learn and teach new things, which is why I think I will never leave Ohio State.”

Linville credits the other nurses and nurse managers who foster growth and champion nursing for adding to a positive work environment.

“We are the place where other hospitals send their patients. We can make those patients better and I am proud to be part of that!"